Best Practices for Setting Up a Hosted VoIP Service

Best hosted VoIP service providers rankedHosted VOIP services or hosted PBX services are terms used to describe a cloud-based IP-PBX phone solution for businesses. In effect, a business branch office can plug IP phones into their local LAN and if the VOIP phones are pre-configured by the hosted VOIP service provider, they will connect to the cloud IP-PBX over the WAN network of the business. This setup enables a business office to have a professional phone system up and running very quickly. Since the VOIP service is hosted, it also provides cost savings and operational advantages.

In terms of the architecture, the VOIP phones on the office LAN can be manually and statically configured, but the more common method is for them to get IP addresses from a DHCP server automatically. Your office gateway will be entered as the “VOIP Gateway” for the phones, so that they know to connect via that gateway IP address when communicating with the outside world, including the mothership PBX.

Your hosted VOIP provider heavily relies on clean and stable WAN connectivity from your office to the cloud PBX they are using. But before we get to that, one very important aspect is your local network. It is advised to have solid LAN wiring and quality LAN switches to support VOIP applications. To be frank, LAN is the easy part of the equation, but nonetheless is sometimes overlooked.

There are many hosted VOIP providers, including, but not limited to (in alphabetical order):

In most cases, you can either procure the IP phones from the hosted VOIP provider, or you may procure then separately provided they support standard VOIP protocol. We recommend you buy the VOIP phones from your hosted VOIP provider to avoid any configuration related issues.

Choosing your hosted VOIP provider is also important. Not all the service providers listed above are created equal. A good checklist should include the ping times from your location, the fail-over strategies they have on their hosting of the PBXs, and their promised SLAs. Needless to say their pricing structure (per extension, per minute, monthly, annually, etc.) is and should be an important factor. Take into account your growth projections and how your cost will be affected. A good question to ask is if you can transfer your phone numbers when/if you leave that service provider for another hosted VOIP provider. You certainly don’t want to be locked because of your inbound phone numbers being locked down to a particular provider.

Perhaps one of the most important pillars of your VOIP strategy should be your WAN (Wide Area Network). For WAN connectivity, the traditional approach for professional VOIP service has been heavy investment in an MPLS infrastructure. MPLS is a layer2 network that is usually provided by a single carrier and uses layer2 labels instead of layer3 routing. The downside of MPLS is the dependency on a single carrier (i.e. if the carrier is having problems, your VOIP system will be down), the high costs involved both in installation as well as on-going fees, lead times for activating MPLS and finally, the availability. The SLAs promised by MPLS services can be illusive, often promising only to credit the amount prorated by the downtime you experience (which can be negligible compared to the cost of that downtime to your business).

For mission critical VOIP services, we recommend a multi-WAN strategy where the dependency on ISPs is spread over at least 2, and preferably more providers. A cost-effective WAN Orchestrator focused on VOIP traffic can be used as a gateway for the VOIP/SIP traffic to add high reliability and low latency.

Cahit Akin, CEO, Mushroom Networks, Inc. 

Mushroom Networks is the provider of SD-WAN (Software Defined WAN) and NFV solutions capable of Broadband Bonding that enables self-healing WAN networks that route around network problems such as latency, jitter and packet loss.


9 thoughts on “Best practices for setting up a hosted VOIP service

  1. Having your own VOIP is really great. You will get to know how effective can give you money. You should choose VOIP users very carefully.

    1. Thank you for your comment. Indeed, choosing the best fitting VOIP provider is critical to make your VOIP project a success.

  2. That’s good to know that businesses that want to use a hosted PBX service need to have a local LAN and a good WAN connection in order to work well. Those can both be easily set up, but it’d be good if companies were aware of this so they wouldn’t think using a hosted service meant everything was automatically taken care of since they would have to make sure they have those connections. However, using a hosted PBX would be nice since it would mean that the business could easily set up a phone system quickly and can start using it for customers right away.

    1. Thank you Hazel for your comments. Indeed, sometimes the importance of connectivity and the quality of the WAN is overlooked when considering hosted services such as hosted IP PBX.

  3. The good thing about VoIP is the initial set up cost is less than a traditional phone system. as it works on your internet therefore, you don’t need a traditional phone line since the introduction of VoIP.

    1. Thank you for your comments Mark! It is indeed a much lower CAPEX phone system and as long as the WAN connectivity have some VOIP based intelligence (such as broadband bonding), the quality and uptime will also be flawless.

  4. By outsourcing telecalling services, firms can improve their marketing campaigns by widening their market reach. Companies can also use these services to gather information and feedback from the customers.
    Also the blog is very informative.
    Thanks for the blog.

  5. Great article! VoIP is really great and really cost effective. I mean you can talk anywhere around the globe over the internet.

  6. Nice post and thank you for sharing this with us.
    Nowadays any type of business is required to implement a VoIP phone system because of the quality and reliability requirements of business phone systems and services.

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